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Mark Richt on Penn State players: we'll 'see what their interest is' in coming to Georgia

By Jerry Hinnen | College Football Writer

The "gentlemanly" thing to do as regards potential transfers out of Penn State would be for teams to at least let the ink dry on the NCAA's sanctions document before angling for the spoils of Mark Emmert's decision. But major college football has never been a particularly gentlemanly sport, has it?

That point was driven home by Mark Richt's Monday appearance at an area mall's "UGA Day," where the Georgia coach -- one with the reputation of being one of the most gentlemanly in his profession -- admitted that his team would be contacting current Nittany Lions to gauge their interest in coming to Athens.

"A lot of colleges around the country certainly will be interested in some of those players," Richt was quoted as saying in the Athens Banner-Herald, "and we're one of those teams. It's pretty well-documented that we're under our 85 number right now. We'll try to get in touch with some of these young men and see what their interest is."

Richt added that his coaching staff had examined Penn State's two-deep during a meeting Monday for possible candidates, and the Banner-Herald noted that two current Nittany Lions -- linebacker Khairi Fortt and defensive end Deion Barnes -- held Georgia offers out of high school. But Richt was also quick to add that he's not looking to start a stampede through the Arch.

"I don't want everybody to sit there and think we're trying to load up a bunch of them," Richt said. "It could be zero. It could be one or two. I don't know what it could be. We'll just see if it's a fit, see if anybody's interested and go from there."

Richt hasn't been the only SEC coach to admit some level of interest in Penn State's players. Speaking to ESPN Monday, Nick Saban stopped short of saying he would initiate contact with possible transfers, but said any Nittany Lions with interest in coming to Alabama would certainly be listened to.

"The first thing I would say to a player is, this is not just about football," Saban said. "You're there to get an education. I think you should think about your future in terms of your ability to be successful personally, academically and athletically.
"If somebody was interested in coming to the University of Alabama, we would certainly entertain it."

It's worth remembering that Richt and Saban aren't coaches with hot seats beneath them and win-or-get-fired seasons ahead of them. If they're this open to the idea of opening their arms to Penn State refugees, it's the safest of bets that more desperate coaches are already doing far more than opening their arms. The last few weeks have no doubt been as hard as hard gets for Penn State's coaches and fans, but the next few aren't shaping up as a picnic, either.

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